Anyone who has been watching the world crisis is probably well aware of the extreme unemployment issues among the youth in Spain and Greece. Spain, I believe has been formally past 50% unemployment for a while. Greece is the same, or will be there shortly with the current trends.
First, I want to clear up some common misconceptions I see on blogs and in the media. Unemployment is not a measure of how lazy a country is, nor is it a measure of how little work needs to be done. It is not a sign of lack of supply. Unemployment is, simply put, a measure of how many people want to work who cannot. It is a measure of how much wasted productivity a country has. It is a measure of how little demand is coming from those who have the largest percentage of the capital.
Greece and Spain have not run out of stuff that needs to get done, stuff that can be effectively done by these unemployed young adults. However, they have no political impetus to employ them and the owners of capital are not willing to put their money into action. What’s worse is that this ideology of letting an entire generation be lost to austerity is being done under the guise of being “moderate.”
This is madness.
The only people who benefit from austerity practices are the rich. Upper-middle class and down get more benefits from government investment in times likes these than any other group. Roads, education, public infrastructure are all things that contribute immensely to both allow further investment and encourage economic spending.
Even something as stupid as building follies is smarter than trying to save money for a rainy day. Money, at a government level, isn’t something that needs to be scarce at a government level. When the government spends money, the people they spend it on are employed and thus able to spend it themselves on local businesses and organizations, providing more work and encouraging more economic growth. Those who are deeply in debt are able to start paying it off, so even the rich get benefits by earning their interest rather than losing money to bankruptcies.
Yet, this austerian moderatism fever has overwhelmed Europe and even floods strongly into Canada, with Alberta, a province that is doing well, refusing to invest properly into the LRT expansion in Edmonton that would benefit a significant number of folks in the capital region.
Now, this isn’t going to happen here, but when the mass of umemployed, hungry people who want to work but simply cannot find it remain so for long enough, you get political problems. The government usually becomes corrupt simply because those who would be involved for checks and balances don’t get involved due to lack of money or time, and the general population starts to agitate for change – any change.
If the pain suffered by the masses is blamed on moderatism, if austerity isn’t recognized for what it is; essentially an extremist position by those in wealth to prevent any wealth transfer to the underclasses, even if those in the underclasses are not directly deserving of this suffering; then extremism becomes a real option.
We seem to have forgotten this problem in the western world due to the extreme success of the Keynesian policies from 1945-1970 and the fact that it took almost 40 years for the gains from those policies to wear off. Now, though, you see it again, in Spain and Greece. I have friends in Spain who otherwise are reasonable, ordinary folks who are stating they want communism because it would be better than what they have. I have contacts in Greece who, in their minds, give very convincing arguments for why they support the Golden Dawn, a extreme fascist party.
And all of their arguments come down to one thing; they want to work, they money is clearly there but it seems to be not being spent at all, and the government is so corrupted by the large money brokers that they no longer represent the masses of the country. The masses who want those roads built, who want those public transit systems created, who want to be educated so they can better contribute to the world economy.
The masses who are starting to rise up and demand that if the current system no longer works, then it’s time for a new one.
The madness of these moderates is going to be the source of the fall into extremism of their own system, and I fear that extremism will spread across Europe very quickly if it shows the slightly sign of success.